Pennyroyal: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Mentha
Species: M. pulegium
Binomial name
Mentha pulegium

Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) is a plant in the mint genus, within the family Lamiaceae. Crushed Pennyroyal leaves exhibit a very strong fragrance similar to spearmint. Pennyroyal is a traditional culinary herb, folk remedy, and abortifacient. The essential oil of pennyroyal is used in aromatherapy, and is also high in pulegone, a highly toxic volatile organic compound affecting liver and uterine function.


Culinary and medicinal uses

Pennyroyal was commonly used as a cooking herb by the Greeks and Romans. The ancient Greeks often flavored their wine with pennyroyal. A large number of the recipes in the Roman cookbook of Apicius call for the use of pennyroyal, often along with such herbs as lovage, oregano and coriander. Although still commonly used for cooking in the Middle Ages, it gradually fell out of use as a culinary herb and is seldom used so today.

As an easily-made poison, pennyroyal has had a long historical use. Early settlers in colonial Virginia used dried pennyroyal to eradicate pests. So popular was pennyroyal, that the Royal Society published an article on its use against rattlesnakes in the first volume of its Philosophical Transactions (1665).[1]

Pennyroyal tea is the use of an infusion made from the herb, the infusion is widely reputed as safe to ingest in restricted quantities. It has been traditionally employed and reportedly successful as an emmenagogue (menstrual flow stimulant) or as an abortifacient. In 1994 a young woman died from an undetected ectopic pregnancy while performing a self-induced abortion using pennyroyal tea; reports say that she had consumed the tea for longer than the recommended five days.[2][3] The most popular current use of the tea is to settle the stomach. Other reported medicinal uses through history include treatment for fainting, flatulence, gall ailments, gout, and hepatitis (presumably Hepatitis A), and as a lung cleanser, a gum strengthener and, when ground with vinegar, a tumor remedy..


Pennyroyal essential oil is extremely concentrated. It should not ever be taken internally because it is highly toxic; even in small doses, the poison can lead to death. Complications have been reported from attempts to use the oil for self-induced abortion. The oil can be used for aromatherapy, a bath additive and as an insect repellent. There are numerous studies that show pennyroyal's toxicity to humans and animals.[4][5][6][7]

Since the U.S. Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act in October 1994, all manufactured forms of pennyroyal have carried a warning label against its use by pregnant women. This substance is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.[3]

Pennyroyal oil should not be used as a natural flea repellent due to its toxicity to pets, even at extremely low levels.[8]

Historical and literary mentions

Aristophanes made reference to pennyroyal as abortifacient in Lysistrata and Peace. Mari Sandoz writes in her book, Slogum House, "She was the fifth of twelve children in the river-bottom family, with a mother who laid the cards and brewed tansy, pennyroyal and like concoctions for luckless girls who were in need."

See aso


  1. ^ Royal Society, "Of A Way of Killing Ratle-Snakes," Philosophical Transactions Vol. 1 (1665) p. 43.
  2. ^ Young, Gordon (December 1995). "Lifestyle on Trial". Metro (Metro Publishing and Virtual Valley, Inc.). Retrieved 2008-06-25.  
  3. ^ a b Natural Standard Research Collaboration (2008-02-01). "American pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides L.), European pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium L.)". Natural Standard. Retrieved 2008-06-25.  
  4. ^ Anderson, Ilene B.; Sidney D. Nelson and Paul D. Blanc (1 February 1997). "Pennyroyal Metabolites in Human Poisoning". Annals of Internal Medicine 126 (3): 250–251. PMID 9027280. Retrieved 2008-06-25.  
  5. ^ Anderson, Ilene B.; Walter H. Mullen; James E. Meeker; Siamak C. Khojasteh-Bakht; Shimako Oishi; Sidney D. Nelson; and Paul D. Blanc (15 April 1996). "Pennyroyal Toxicity: Measurement of Toxic Metabolite Levels in Two Cases and Review of the Literature". Annals of Internal Medicine 124 (8): 726–734. PMID 8633832. Retrieved 2008-06-25.  
  6. ^ Bakerink, James A.; Sidney M. Gospe Jr; Robert J. Dimand; and Marlowe W. Eldridge (1 November 1996). "Multiple Organ Failure After Ingestion of Pennyroyal Oil From Herbal Tea in Two Infants". Pediatrics 98 (5): 944–947. PMID 8909490. Retrieved 2008-06-25.  
  7. ^ Sudekum, M; Poppenga, R H; Raju, N; Braselton, W E Jr. (March 1992). "Pennyroyal oil toxicosis in a dog". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 200 (6): 817–818. PMID 1568929.  
  8. ^ "Warnings about Essential Oils". Bits and Brew. Retrieved 2008-06-25.  

External links

Wikisource-logo.svg "Pennyroyal". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.  

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PENNYROYAL, in botany, a herb formerly much used in medicine, the name being a corruption of the old herbalist's name "Pulioll-royall," Pulegium regium. It is a member of the mint genus, and has been known to botanists since the time of Linnaeus as Mentha pulegium. It is a perennial herb with a slender branched stem, square in section, up to a foot in length and rooting at the lower nodes, small opposite stalked oval leaves about half-inch long, and dense clusters of small reddish-purple flowers in the leaf axils, forming almost globular whorls. It grows in damp gravelly places, especially near pools, on heaths and commons. It has a strong smell somewhat like that of spearmint, due to a volatile oil which is readily obtained by distillation with water, and is known in pharmacy as Oleum pulegii. The specific name recalls its supposed property of driving away fleas (pulices). Like the other mints it has carminative and stimulant properties.

<< Penn Yan

Penobscot >>

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address